First of all, I want to express my thanks to Sue for having me on her site once again. It’s great to be back!
I am a cross-genre author. By that, I mean my fiction books are a mix of two or more genres, the main one being romance. Under that general umbrella, I fall into two sub-genres: historical western romance and romantic suspense, but each story line includes paranormal elements, namely psychic characters. In the case of my Romancing the Guardians series, secret prophesies of an apocalyptic nature and murderous bad guys who want to steal the prophesies drive the overall plot, adding suspense and more paranormal threads.
Does that sound too complicated? Maybe, but this is what Dianne Bylo said about Rescuing Lara, Romancing the Guardians, Book One: “Picture a vibrant, multi-colored braided ribbon, each color being a subplot and you can visualize how well Ms. Horner has woven this tale together with depth and precision, while creating a masterful work of art through words.”
Not to brag (Ha!) but I do love that description. However, it doesn’t answer two critical questions I and many cross-genre authors must address.
- What writing niche do I fit in?
- How do I find readers in that niche group?
First, let’s examine question one.
“For me, finding a niche has been like trying to choose a favorite among my own children.” The Write Niche
Very true, but if you want to build an audience for your work, you must know your niche and write to that audience. Now let’s boil down the how-to factors.
- Identity your main genre – romance in my case – and let it guide your plot. To do so, you need to know the key element(s) of that genre. In romance, the heroine and hero should face and eventually overcome obstacles to true love (a happy ending is a must.) A murder mystery and/or suspense plot must include villains, red herrings and fear for the main characters. Horror clearly requires the same, but to a terrifying degree. In short, you need to know what makes your main genre tick. Read some of the best books in that genre and pay close attention to the key elements.
- Once you define your main genre and have the fundamentals firmly in mind, work in whatever sub-genre elements you choose. For best results, it’s wise to stick to one or two sub-genres. It’s much easier to juggle!
- Create characters that feel real. Have them experience a range of emotions: love, hate, humor, despair, fear, bravery, etc. Don’t try to make them fit in a mold. Readers tire of cookie-cutter characters. In fact, genre fiction is often criticized for being too formulaic in both plot and characterization. That’s why a number of readers prefer cross-genre fiction now that it’s available via small publishers and indie authors like moi.
Finding Your Cross-genre Niche
- When pitching your book to an agent, editor or online to readers, name the main genre and one or two sub-genres. Describe it with an adjective or two in front of a noun, such as:western historical romance, sci-fi drama, romantic fantasy, murder mystery, humorous romance, cop drama. Be specific and offer a concise glimpse into the world you have created. For example, “Rescuing Lara features a young woman running for her life from a maniacal group who want to steal the sacred scroll she guards. The genre is paranormal romantic suspense, but the central appeal lies in Lara’s emotional upheaval and coming to trust her heart.”
Now, let’s turn to question two.
One of the most vital steps is to choose keywords on your publishing site that clearly define your niche. Since I currently publish my books exclusively on Amazon, I will talk about finding appropriate keywords on that site. However, you can apply the same or similar method for other e-retailers such as Nook, Kobo and Apple iBooks.
- When uploading your book, Amazon says, “You can enter keywords or short phrases that describe your book and are relevant to its content. The best keywords are those that do not repeat words in the title, category, or description, as these are already used to help readers find your book.”
You can only enter up to 7 keywords for your book, so choose carefully. To see what keywords might work best, type one that you’re thinking of using into the Amazon search bar, in either the books department or kindle store department. When the results pop up, look to the upper left, where it tells how many books already appear under that keyword. If it’s a huge number, such as for “romance”, avoid it unless you’re a best-selling author. The competition is insurmountable for most of us. Find a smaller, more specific niche where you stand a better chance in Amazon’s book ranking system.
If the keywords you choose bring tepid sales, try others. You can change keywords as often as you wish after publishing your book. I recently chose new keywords for Capturing Gabriel, Romancing the Guardians, Book Three: paranormal romantic suspense, Navajo heroine, Colombian drug lord, Native American romance, kidnapped heroine, superhero powers, page-turner. I’m not entirely happy with all of them, so will be changing two or three.
Read more about choosing the right niche in this article:
- Join groups on Facebook that fit your niche. Groups that allow discussion between authors and readers are best for drumming up interest. Here are a few that I belong to:
Paranormal romantic suspense:
Paranormal, Romance, and Fantasy Books
Romantic Thrillers, Mysteries & Suspense Books
Speculative Fiction Emporium
Western historical romance:
Jacquie Rogers Pickle Barrel Bar & Books
In conclusion, I hope this information helps you define and succeed in your cross-genre writing niche.
“…cross-genre fiction has the potential to accomplish some phenomenal things by approaching the same archetypal stories in a new way.” Christie Gerstle
About the author
Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and romantic suspense novels, all spiced with paranormal elements. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” – with her husband and a gaggle of very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.
Find Lyn’s books on her Amazon Author Page
Sign up for Lyn’s Romance Gazette
Read sample chapters on Lyn’s website
Find and Follow Lyn
Books by Lyn Horner
Click the titles or images for universal links
Overview of the series so far: There are seven Guardians, each possessing a psychic gift and a precious scroll containing a secret prophecy handed down from ancient Irish seers. Not to be revealed until mankind is ready to listen, the prophesies are in danger of being seized by vicious “Hellhounds” who want to use them for their own evil ends.
Rescuing Lara (Book 1), winner in the 2015 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards, is set in Ireland and Texas. It stars Lara Spenser, the injured niece of the murdered high Guardian, and Connor O’Shea, a hunky ex-Special Forces soldier Lara hires as her bodyguard. Lethal villains, hot romance and a few surprises make this a wild ride.
Decoding Michaela (Book 2) features a heroine who can read minds. Stunned by news that her revered leader, the High Guardian, has been murdered, Michaela Peterson is attracted to Dev Medina, the handsome messenger, but fears he may be out to steal the scroll she guards. Can Dev win her trust and unlock her heart before the Hellhounds capture her?
Capturing Gabriel (Book 3) is set in Colombia. Gabriel Valdez refuses to believe the feisty Navajo beauty who tracks him down with a message to meet the other Guardians in the United States. Instead, he takes her prisoner. Josie doesn’t count on falling for him. Gabriel doesn’t intend to trust her with his secrets or his love, but the heart has a mind of its own.
Touching Charlotte (Book 4) Introduces Charlotte Dixon, an empathic Guardian, and Tristan Jameson, an ex-NYC cop burdened by grief. He needs healing and love, but how can a man romance a woman who can’t stand to be touched? Breaking through Charlotte’s barriers while protecting her from Hellhounds proves his ultimate challenge.
Profiling Nathan (Book 5) is a chilling murder mystery/sexy romance. Guardian and ex-con Nathan Maguire just wants to make a living inking tattoos in Tampa, Florida, but when FBI profiler Talia Werner walks into his shop, she turns his life upside down. To save her pretty neck, he must help catch a serial killer. His deadly psychic gift may come in handy.
Beguiling Delilah (Book 6)
She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France.
Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love. Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on the breathtaking Côte d’Azur. Both Delilah and Leon have lost loved ones, and they’re no longer youngsters, but they are not too old for a second chance at love. Their journey is fraught with danger, excitement and steamy, mature romance. Will it lead to love – if they live long enough?
Volumes 1-4 are also available as a Box Set
Also by Lyn Horner
Psychics in the Old West? Yes indeed! Meet Lyn Horner’s Texas Devlins, a trio of siblings descended from Irish Celtic Druids. Each one is blessed with a rare psychic gift. Available individually or as a box set.
If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!